ok. it's been a while.
so shoot me. i've been writing my book.
but nothing will plant me faster on my virtual soapbox than the opportunity to vent about the low-brow, offensive humor of the Farrelly Brothers.
i can just hear the pitch.
"Okay, okay. Get this! Jim Carrey's character is a little lost, melancholy. He can't figure out why. So he goes to the doctor and is told, Dude! You need a kidney! You know, as in a transplant. So through a series of wildly comical and politically incorrect events, we discover that he has a love child. Perfect! Problem solved! He thinks, I'll just go and find my child and get a kidney from him! Dude! So, together with Jeff Daniels, they embark upon a wildly comical and politically incorrect road trip to find him...Are you with me, are you with me so far?...Then we bookend with a heartwarming father/child denouement. His child overcomes his resentment towards his absent father JUST IN TIME to save Jim Carrey's life by donating his kidney...
...just as the credits roll, to a sentimental, yet plucky, anthemic swell of string instruments.
And THEN, through a series of wildly comical and politically incorrect events, Jim Carrey has tons of energy to go on the road trip, needs no doctors' visits, specialized diet or anythingcloseto23dailymedications and definitely no dialysis.
doesn't test well.
[i added that last part.]
i don't understand it. i've never understood it. how is kidney failure funny?
every one's doing it.
"Friends" has done it.","Frasier" has done it. and every. single. time, my loose and comfortable laugh, limber from loads of well-massaged quips and puns, is choked off. i sputter. i cringe. my body freezes into a statue of disbelief. i shift in my seat. my smile falters, my lips unsure of which way to curl. initially, my mouth pinches upwards into "the Joker's" eerie, cynical smirk, then crumbles complete into a frown so droopy, so deflated, even Eeyore seems positively joyous by comparison.
cancer gets a pass. AIDS gets a pass. even other transplants get a pass.
there's something about kidney.
is there something cute and cuddly about the kidney? the beans we eat? the kidney-shaped pools we swim in? i mean, when was the last time you took a dip in a pancreas? is there something so conveniently science-fictionesque about being able to donate your "extra" organ that alights the Hollywood writer's pedestrian brain, sparking a crackling bonfire of below average humor and witticisms?
"Here, take my wife!"
"Take my kidney!"
It's all expendable.
more likely, it's an like an easy default for the overpaid Hollywood writer. having clutched too many lattes, hiked too many canyons, and taken too many meetings, way too seriously, the flatlining Hollywood writer, so darn frustrated by the industry's lack of recognition of his/her unique writing abilities - the unbelievably lucky asshole who cranked out self-indulgent shorts until he became one of 19 producers on a web series, and now finds himself grandfathered around town from writing staff to writing staff, has lost all perspective of the horseshoe way up his ass. yes, the lucky son-of-a-gun who thinks his treatment is the first and most brilliant reworking of any plot line from The Greeks through Shakespeare.
[oh, but don't cha know, what they really want to do is direct.]
yes, from a satellite perspective, and with the intelligence of an ant, kidney transplantation does seem as effortless as a link you COPY and PASTE onto Facebook. as easy as 1-2-3! Step 1. get tested! Step 2. have a quick and painless surgery! Step 3. recipient leads full life FREE of complications.
[can i get an AMEN? or maybe just a "like"?]
of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.
it's the desperation that they don't see. the desperation that pushes you into hell.
and in your desperation the only thing that can save you is the truth.
and without the truth, we all fall down.
with panicked flaps, they flew my coop with a bad case of "cold feet", squawking out some veiled excuse, sad in its transparency of their fears. "i just get sick a lot!"..."well, what if i need my extra one someday?"..."if you fly here i'll give you a kidney!"..."if you pay $75,000 we can do it in my country!"... "i have to pay my mortgage!"...
and then there were those who never offered. and never called.
everyone wants to be the hero, but you actually have to lace up and go into battle wearing that ridiculous gladiator skirt.
in my schizophrenic, new found serenity, i do understand that people do the best they can with what they've got. but, damn. i would have had more respect if they had just flat out owned it.
like, "i'm scared" or "quite frankly, you're a bit of a nut, soooo, i'm just not sure if it's worth it."
because, desperation makes you seek the truth with the vibrating intensity of a diving rod seeking water in your personal desert storm.
desperation spurs you to lasso the world.wide.web, hijacking social media with a rope around it's neck; a knife to it's throat. you "friend" those from 20, 30 years ago, vulnerable in your virtual pleas for help; stripped of any pride your profile picture might otherwise suggest. you poke at these pixilated pictures from the past, images you barely recognize, praying they will poke you back. will someone see the pain behind my shiny, happy selfie? and then, out of the shadows of a row of rusted and dented lockers, steps salvation. under the florescent high school lights, an offer. "i will get tested for you." and for a moment, your desperation is blotted out by the halo of hope shining above you - up there with the asbestos in the ceiling and the student council election posters falling from the walls.
hope that you may never have to spend one. more. minute hooked up to a machine that filters your blood between 3-5 hours a day, detoxing your battered body from the toxins your poor kidney can no longer filter. hope that you'll have the energy to get home, collapse, rest and return to do it all again the day after next.
i know from desperation.
desperation annihilates you. your fingers frantically piano up and down your sides, searching for that side zipper to yank down with one quick, satisfying tug; oh, to unpeel out of your leathery, jaundiced skin. with a leaden head barely raised, like a feral beast, you sniff out for something, anything better. pills, alcohol, hate - anything that can motivate you for more than a minute to slither out of your bed, and squirm away from your soft, green bedroom walls gone chalkboard black.
[the writing's on the wall.]
i was so desperate for relief from kidney failure, i would do anything. go through every medicine cabinet i could find - steal his pills, their pills, your pills - lie to doctors and nurses and pharmacists, oh, my!, and search under my bathroom sink for more alcohol, more anything, just -
anything to make me feel more than the mess of less i had become.
oh, if only life were like the movies! and richard gere would come crawling up that fire escape to each and every soul trapped on dialysis, clasping a kidney between his teeth instead of a bunch of wilted, supermarket mums!
[now THAT''S comedy!]
i'm sure Hollywood, in all it's fanatical, number-crunching wisdom discovered it's still cost-effective to make this movie. i mean, only 80,000 americans die every year from kidney disease. it's only the 9th leading cause of death in America.
[go forth and market!]
and so, for every winy, misunderstood Hollywood writer, of both the employed and unemployed variety, for every joke about buying a kidney, not needing your "extra" kidney, selling a kidney to pay off taxes, how easy it is to just "get" a kidney, ridiculing the torment fueling illegal organ trade, suggesting any slick convenience to dialysis - i suggest this. spend one day on a dialysis ward. follow the gurneys unloading the half-dead from the medical vans. follow them upstairs as they lie, glassy-eyed or hobble anxiously clutching their spouses' warm, taut hand in their own, cold and limp. follow them as they do the heartless shuffle and collapse with audible, ironic relief into their assigned chair. follow their eyes as their eyes follow the tubes sucking their blood through a jumble of plastic worms, through a tubular, plastic filter, and a cold, steel machine as they shiver uncontrollably under arctic conditions.
then make your jokes.
in my recovery, i get on my knees every morning and give thanks. i give thanks that i am sober for today. i give thanks that i am no longer walking among the living dead, among those too dear to be on dialysis.
and i give thanks that i once was desperate.
i wish those writers desperation.
and not for a paycheck.